Family advocates condemn revised Alberta schools law for failing to protect kids, parental rights
EDMONTON, Alberta, October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It has been three months since Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party passed its new education bill after 40 hours of emotional debate in the Alberta legislature, and amid waves of street demonstrations, union denunciations and student walkouts protesting that the Tories were bent on “outing” LGBTQ kids.
Bill 8, or the Amended Education Act, repealed the NDP’s reviled Bill 24 that forbade schools from telling parents their child had joined a “gay/straight alliance” or GSA.
But longtime pro-family advocates say the UCP law remains an assault on parental rights and fails to protect the vulnerable students it purports to help.
While Bill 8 allows schools the discretion to disclose to parents that their child has joined a GSA, a UCP ministry fact sheet makes its clear that non-disclosure is the default.
“Schools cannot disclose a student’s membership in any inclusion group, as there are student privacy considerations that trump other legislation,” it states.
The “rare” exception is when such a disclosure “is justified if a student is at risk of harm.”
“They didn’t take out all of the secrecy thing, so kids can still go to GSAs or whatever without parental knowledge,” says Dr. Gerry Prince, who battled Bill 24 at the Medicine Hat Public School Division.
But not only do parents have the right know what is happening with their children at school, “the reality is parents are generally the kid’s best advocate, unless they’ve been proven to be incompetent or untrustworthy, or there’s a real suspicion that disclosing the information would put the child in harm’s way, and that’s not the majority of parents,” Prince told LifeSiteNews.
Bill 8’s non-disclosure default policy on GSAs is also a “loophole” to the UCP’s mandate that “parents would be notified when there’s any sexual content going to be dealt with at the schools in the classrooms, which is good,” he said.
“Now you have a club where you can go and get all sorts of sexuality education or miseducation, and the parents have no way of knowing about it,” Prince pointed out.
Potential danger to students
There’s also concern for “the safety of the children” involved in the clubs, he said.
“These GSAs have no structure around them, so there is no requirement that these be professional people, that they be certified counselors, that they be anything of the sort,” Prince told LifeSiteNews.
“These can be just people from the gay community, or special interest groups that are promoting their own lifestyles, and there are no protection for kids in that kind of situation,” he added.
“To legislate that those clubs can exist without any structure or quality control or safeguards around them is a potential danger,” he said.
Indeed, shocking testimony during a constitutional challenge to Bill 24 revealed that without their parents’ knowledge, students were taken to GSAs off school property and given graphic and sexually explicit material on how to have “gay” sex, as the Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella and LifeSiteNews reported at the time. (The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms withdrew its court challenge after Bill 24’s repeal.)
Such scenarios are possible under the current legislation, as is the possibility that a five-year-old could start identifying as the opposite sex at school with the encouragement of teachers and without parents knowing, Prince contends.
“I think nobody wants to deny a kid who’s having troubles the resources they need for help, so a kid is struggling with gender issues or whatever issues should be able to get that help,” he said.
“The competing interest is the parents’ right to know where their kids are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing, and I think that’s a fundamental right. The schools do not have the right to supplant that.”
‘Insane and abusive’ guidelines for best practice
Moreover, the NDP-mandated “safe and caring school policies” remain in full force in most public school districts despite Bill 24’s repeal, says Jeremy Williamson, who took the Medicine Hat Public School District to court in 2017 over its ‘safe and caring policy.”
The father of two school-aged children, Williamson described these policies in a Facebook post as “insane, abusive, and destructive” and “a cover name for the repugnant affirmation of children into transgenderism, reproductive sterilization, and genital mutilation, as well as board overreach.”
Most public board based the policies on the 2016 “Guidelines for Best Practice: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions,” which “had a number of very alarming things in them, including gender affirmation in children with no age restriction,” he told LifeSiteNews.
It’s listed as a chief resource on Alberta Education’s “Welcoming, care, respectful and safe schools” webpage.
The document says teachers must affirm a sexually confused student in his or her chosen gender identity, including calling them by their preferred pronouns such as “ze,” “zir,” “hir.”
“No student or family should be referred to programs which purport to “fix,” “change” or “repair” a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” it states.
The guidelines also state that “in keeping with the principles of self-identification, it is important to protect a student’s personal information and privacy, including, where possible, having a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to peers, parents, guardians or other adults in their lives.”
“The Guidelines to Best Practices needs to be pulled, and recognized as an inappropriate document, and the ‘safe and caring policies’ need to be revisited in every school district, because they’re neither safe nor caring,” Williamson told LifeSiteNews.
The UCP made “a lot of fanfare about Education Act,” but “they’ve done nothing” to stop the promotion of gender ideology in the schools, he said. “All parents are concerned with this because this is a denial of truth, it’s a denial of reality.”
LifeSiteNews contacted the office of Education Minister Adriana LaGrange for comment but did not receive a response.
To express your concerns, write:
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange
#202, 5913 - 50 Avenue
Red Deer, AB
Canada T4N 4C4
228 Legislature Building
0800 - 97 Avenue NW
Canada T5K 2B6
Some Alberta school board policies around 'sexual orientation and gender identity'
Medicine Hat Public School District 614 P001 policy on “administrative procedure: Sexual orientation and gender identity” states that principals must “ensure staff will not refer students to programs or services that attempt to change or repair a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity” and “ensure all staff recognize the confidentiality of the sexual orientation and gender identity of all students and protect them from unwanted disclosure of such.”
Calgary Board of Education’s FAQ for parents states: “Students are entitled to the protection of their personal information, including their gender identity and sexual orientation. Some LGBTQ students are not open about their sexual or gender identity. Given the sensitivity related to one’s gender identity and sexual orientation, if a student discloses that they are LGBTQ to a CBE staff member, that information will be held in confidence and not shared without the students’ permission.”
Edmonton Public Schools Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy likewise states in part that principals will “ensure staff will not refer students to programs or services that attempt to change or repair a student's sexual orientation or gender identity” and “ensure all staff recognize the confidentiality of the sexual orientation and gender identity of all students and protect them from unwanted disclosure of such information.”